The Darwin Project launched on Steam Early Access recently, promising a new twist on the battle royale genre. This time, ten players are dropped into a snowy landscape with nothing but a bow, an axe, and their wits.
The Show Director is the most intriguing new addition, placing one player in the role of a floating overseer spectating the match. Their powers can influence the game directly, giving struggling survivors the last arrow they need, or nuking an entire area to send contestants scrambling.
Imagine if Left 4 Dead or Vermintide’s AI director was an actual person and you’re not far off the sadistic reality of this situation.
Without a tutorial to explain what’s going on, it can be hard to figure out the tactics you need to win in The Darwin Project. Thankfully we’ve compiled a number of helpful tips for contestants struggling to survive in these icy wastes.
Customise your crafting wheel
It is tempting to jump right into the action, but you should tinker with the crafting wheel before venturing out into the frozen tundra.
The crafting wheel is a core part of The Darwin Project, controlling what items you take into the battlefield. Whilst you can customise it in the pre-game lobby, you’re not constrained by time on the main menu - have a play around before you enter the fray, instead of scrambling before a game begins.
First off, make sure to check out your options for arrows. If you choose one of the game’s specialised arrows, you won’t be given five normal ones for free at the start of the match. Specialised arrows offer game-changing debuffs, including a tracking arrow that leaves a silhouette on your opponent for ten seconds, or the fire arrow, which deals more damage at the cost of combat range.
Sure, you have to go through the trouble of looting wood, but you can do more damage once you have.
Elsewhere in the crafting wheel, you can tinker with your traps, perks, and powers. This will, of course, depend on your playstyle, so experimentation is key. However, traps like the Smoke Bomb are easy to recommend.
In The Darwin Project, enemies can be illuminated by finding their footsteps, discovering their crafting spots, or by using the radar power. Smoke Bombs cancel tracking and allow you to slink off into the woods, making them a useful tool to have in your arsenal.
Always chase Electronics
In the crafting wheel, your most potent abilities are your powers. A few choice examples include an energy shield, a teleporter, and a radar. The joy of these abilities is that they’re permanent once crafted.
The only way to acquire powers is through chasing an Electronics drop. Similar to the air drops in PUBG, Electronics are scarce and always heavily contested. Because of the considerably smaller map and player-count, securing them first is vital.
Simply put, powers win games - without them, you might as well be playing Poker with a duff hand, against an opponent with a rapid-fire turret and x-ray vision.
Make Armour your priority
As soon as you drop into the tundra, you should immediately look for resources. A key to success in the early game is to acquire three pieces of Leather and Wood so you can craft Armour.
Armour blocks the next incoming attack, giving you an essential lifeline if you’ve been caught out - much like Fortnite’s shield. You’re able to react and turn the tide.
Health is also notoriously tough to recover in The Darwin Project, making it essential that you maintain it as best you can. If possible, you may even want to stack three Leather and Wood at all times so you can craft more Armour once you’ve been hit.
Manage Stamina and Warmth
Whilst health is certainly important, if you don’t manage your other needs you will fall prey to the game’s survival mechanics.
Stamina is a finite resource that quickly runs out. Naturally, you want as much loot as your legs can muster, but if you overdo it you’re forced to wait for the red Stamina bar to fill. If you aren’t constantly thinking about how long you’re holding the sprint key, you may end up without a paddle in the middle of a crucial battle.
Similarly, Warmth can ruin a game if you’re not careful. Walking around in the freezing cold in a prison jumpsuit doesn’t exactly work wonders for your homeostasis. Always keep one Wood in your inventory and you can craft a fire in a cold spot. Similarly, look out for Leather to bolster your cold resistance with a Fur Cloak.
Ideally, you want to be as warm as possible before you start picking people off like some icy predator - the chill can chomp your limited health with ease. Having to stay in proximity of a fire is also a serious danger to your survival since you won’t be able to dodge projectiles efficiently and the flames will act as a beacon to searching enemies.
Be mindful of where you craft
Crafting takes up a considerable amount of your time in The Darwin Project. It’s also the main way with which other players can track your movement.
After every use of the crafting wheel, an object is left on the floor in your wake. Other players can find and use this object to track you, illuminating your movements and location on their HUD.
Therefore, when you can manage it, make sure you craft behind terrain or in secluded blind spots. Whilst it is inevitable that you’ll be tracked eventually, don’t make it easy for them.
Of course, you can always use this to your advantage to get the drop on your enemies, to track your prey.
Look out for red circles and hidden radars
Whilst wandering the environment, your eye may be drawn to a red pulsing circle in the distance. This indicates that one of your opponents is in that direction.
There is another way to track distant players, however. Some of the game’s rare wooden buildings contain hidden radars that track the exact location of every player on the map.
The Darwin Project rewards aggressive play - clearing the map of others as early as possible will help you down the line. So follow the clues and clean up.
Hunt the Robot Deer
Taking out defenseless animals is a solid survival tactic, even if they are made of metal. Robot Deer are a rare roaming mob found across The Darwin Project’s map. You will often find them trapped in terrain, since, you know, it's Early Access.
Take out your axe and crack them open like a pinata for randomised loot - this ranges from arrows to traps and rare consumables. A first aid kit or energy drink could be the difference between life and death in the middle of an engagement.
You will struggle to find consumables outside of chests and other players, so finding and culling the Robot Deer is even more important than you may think.
Don’t mute your mic
Whilst in the other popular battle royale titles you’d be inclined to mute everyone to avoid the awfulness of pre-game lobby chat, The Darwin Project bucks the curve. Not least because there are fewer players.
Due to the existence of the Show Director, communication may be key to your survival. The Show Director has the power to give you warmth, health, ammo, or even invincibility. Best get on their good side, eh?
Whilst some Show Directors ruin the game by creating an unstoppable force, most are sympathetic to underdogs and will help you out if you’re in a bind. This is only made easier if you be personable or ask for help.
If you’re feeling incredibly confident, you could also ask for a Manhunt, alerting every player to your location. Why would you do this? Because you receive essential resources like arrows and tools for surviving the chaos.
Use the lobby to learn the Axe and Bow
Due to the limited amount of weapons, you need to improve your skills with your existing arsenal if you plan to succeed.
Whilst experiencing the game is the best way to hone your skills, always use the pre-game lobby to your advantage. Wreak havoc upon your contestants with the axe and figure out your angles for changing its attack course.
Also, ensure to check out the glowing, multi-coloured balls in the sky above the lobby. This is your target practice. A lot of skilled players have mastered jumping whilst firing arrows to stay mobile. This can be tricky to get the hang of, so have a hope around the lobby and skewer some heads.